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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2007, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Coalition waltz?
On Sunday 29 April Andrew Marr interviewed Dafydd Wigley, Honorary President, Plaid Cymru

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Dafydd Wigley
Dafydd Wigley, Honorary President, Plaid Cymru

ANDREW MARR: The name of the game in Thursday's elections to the newly beefed-up Welsh Assembly will be the coalition waltz.

Which parties will join hands to make up the next administration in Cardiff, and will Labour hang on as the main party there.

Well, the Welsh Labour Party recently scorned claims they would consider a deal with Plaid, the Welsh Nationalists, if they failed to win a majority.

The honorary president of Plaid, Dafydd Wigley, joins me now from Bangor. Welcome Dafydd, welcome back, I should say - we thought you had left politics!

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Yes indeed, it's a long time ago we were speaking isn't it? I did stand down in 2003, I'd had a little bit of health trouble and one or two other issues.

But I've got increasingly frustrated watching the Assembly over television from home and one feels the more of us that can put our voice there and our shoulders to the wheel the better chance there is of getting a better government for Wales.

ANDREW MARR: Well you've come back with a rather grand title, Honorary President, and applied itself as being remodelled a bit, used to be called Plaid Cymru now it's just Plaid. And you've got a new logo, looks a little bit like the BP sign if I may say so.

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Yes, it's on my lapel here.

ANDREW MARR: Is this because Plaid Cymru was too difficult for people to say, or what?

DAFYDD WIGLEY: No, Plaid is the term that's been used in general conversation for a long time in Wales. Reference has been to Plaid doing this and Plaid doing that. And so we're using that as the strap line although Plaid Cymru still remains the formal name, Plaid Cymru the party of Wales to give it in its full form.

ANDREW MARR: OK. Now you've come out in this election with a long stream of spending commitments on healthcare, giving every child in Wales a computer in their classroom and so on. And of course we're back to the usual question of how you're going to pay for it. Would you like the Welsh Assembly one day to be able to raise taxes specifically for Welsh issues?

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Well I certainly think that is going to happen. I think it's inevitable in any mature democracy that those who formulate policy and give a lead have the responsibility of taxation. But that's not going to happen in the next four years, and what we've had to do is to look at how much money can be redirected within our budget in Wales. There will be a certain amount of growth money, assuming the economy continues to grow, and in those circumstances what are the priorities?

And the priorities are, yes the National Health Service, we have to stop the hospital closure programme, we have to ensure that young people can buy houses for the first time. And we're introducing a scheme, pound for pound scheme up to a 10,000 level, to enable people to get a deposit on a house. It's very, very difficult in most parts of Wales to secure houses, as it is throughout many parts of Britain of course. And we have a programme for helping students who find difficulty in repaying their student loans, to have a five-year holiday from doing so if they're working in Wales, to enable them to face that more easily.

ANDREW MARR: Right. You're not in the same position obviously as the Scottish Nationalists are north of the border where they're bidding to be the largest party. I introduced you earlier on as the Welsh Nationalist, but to what extent are you really a Nationalist Party anymore?

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Well can I say that our nationalism is a civic nationalism. Everybody living in Wales, whatever their language, colour and creed, are part of Wales and we regard them as such. We want Wales to have full self government of course. Our aspirations in the fullness of time are to be a full member of the European Union in our own right. But that's not going to happen over the next four years, the challenge now is to get the same powers as the Scottish Parliament has got.

An Act has gone through Westminster to enable that but we need another referendum to trigger it. And in the meantime we need to move forward to show that we can take on full law making powers and use them in a constructive manner. Plaid has a programme for law making that will be possible to introduce during the next four years, and by this time, at the end of the coming Assembly I hope we will have those full powers and that we can then look forward to further steps forward for Wales.

ANDREW MARR: Now, it's clearly going to be a coalition administration of some kind in Cardiff. Do you hope that it will be Plaid working alongside Labour, can you see any circumstances in which, with a little bit of a Tory revival in Wales, you could find yourself sitting alongside the Welsh Tories?

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Well let's put it in context. The latest opinion polls put Labour at 32% in Wales and Plaid on 26%. So we're closing the gap rapidly, and our aspiration of course would be to be the largest party, and to be leading that coalition. The question of a coalition revolves around what is the programme that a coalition government is supporting, and we have six or seven sticking points for that, things like halving the business rate which is so important for small business in rural areas particularly, and our hospital closure programme and other things.

If we can get agreement on a programme like that, that is not so much who are the partners but how can we drive that programme forward, and get better government, government for the whole of Wales. The feeling has been that we've had a government that only takes interest in the Cardiff area in south-east Wales, and that the rest of Wales has been neglected. We want to change that and bring in all the talents of Wales to serve our country.

ANDREW MARR: Well, Dafydd Wigley, you have an extraordinary week ahead of you and it'll be very, very interesting how the results finally pan out. Thank you very, very much indeed for joining us this morning.

DAFYDD WIGLEY: Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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